Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri: The Saudi Candidate Looking to Shake-up the WTO





On August 31 2020, Roberto Azevêdo will stepped down as director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The selection process for the next director-general is underway with eight candidates nominated by national governments around the world. The successful candidate will lead this critically important global organization as it faces enormous challenges amidst intensifying international trade tensions, rising protectionism, and the unprecedented global economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
On July 8, 2020 it was announced that Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri will be the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's nominee for the role director general. Al-Tuwaijri has served as minister for economy and planning with responsibility for the economic development agenda for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He is currently an advisor to the royal court.

Al-Tuwaijri holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Science from King Faisal Air College, He earned his Master's degree in Business Administration with honors from King Saud University. He was an air force pilot for the Saudi Air Force. He flew a Tornado, a British fighter jet. He flew over 30 war missions during the first Gulf War between 1990 and 1991 - flying 100 ft above ground, deep behind enemy lines. 
 
Al-Tuwaijri spent more than 20 years working at some of the biggest banks in the world.
 
In 1995, Al-Tuwaijri joined SABB as Head of Risk Management in the Treasury, then Deputy Treasurer and finally as Group Head of Treasury and Board member of HSBC Saudi Arabia. 
 
In 2007, he took the role of Managing Director and CEO of J.P. Morgan Saudi Arabia, setting up the bank's presence in Saudi Arabia and growing it to become one of the most profitable global entities in the kingdom with a reputable client base including almost all of the GREs and MNCs operating locally. 
 
In 2010, he took on the role of Group Managing Director, Deputy Chairman and CEO of HSBC Bank Middle East, North Africa and Turkey.  He led as a regional chief Executive Officer with a coverage includes the following countries, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Jordan, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Turkey, Iraq, and Pakistan. Ramallah. 
 
In 2016, Al-Tuwaijri was appointed the Minister of Economy and Planning. His priorities as Minister were to foster the Saudi economy through a comprehensive economic reforms, policies, strategic planning and regulations to achieve the Kingdom’s diversification objectives including removing obstacles to productivity and competitiveness. While focusing on the realization of Saudi Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program, he was keen to strengthen policy research and analysis that will better position the economy of the Kingdom to support the evolving trade and investment policy environment. He engaged with the IMF and World Bank Group as a government and private sector representative concerning global issues and policy design, including Article IV analysis on Saudi Arabia’s economic agenda. He also engaged with the OECD in developing an economic policy design framework
 
In July, it was announced that Al-Tuwaijri will be the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's nominee for the role director general at the World Trade Organisation.
 
He has said that the WTO, which was founded in 1995, was due a shake-up. “Twenty-five years; in my mind, every organisation in the world -- regardless of the external environment, which is severe in our case -- must have the fresh restart,” he told the Geneva Press Club.
 
Al-Tuwaijri wants to do an "MRI scan" deep assessment of the WTO's problems "If all wheels do not spin as designed, the tricycle cannot carry the members forward to reach their goal, he said.
 
In an interview with The Business Times, he stressed that reconstructing the world's severely disrupted supply chains will be one of the most pressing challenges that the incoming WTO chief - whoever he or she may be - will have to tackle. "Risk management, strategic moves and rethinking plans are among the main drivers that are triggering the repositioning of businesses' supply chains after the coronavirus crisis, and only the WTO can provide the necessary umbrella to push for resilience and sustainability in this reconstruction," he said.
 
Asked about the troubled relationship between the United States and China, Mr Al-Tuwaijri described the ongoing tensions involving the world's two superpowers as one of the defining geopolitical forces of the decade. If he eventually becomes the WTO's next leader, he said he would tap into his "good relations" with both Washington and Beijing over the years and assume the role of an "honest broker" between the two countries in the trade war.